25 May 2011

We've Already Won

Over there on the left sidebar amongst my favorite quotes is one from Cesar Chavez: “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”

I’ve had a stressful few weeks and have gotten a bit down about some things. But I think I’m bouncing back. Obviously I’m well past high school, and I know it’s common to hear of more mature adults deriding teens and 20-somethings for all kinds of things, “the world’s going to hell in a handbasket if we leave it to them,” that sort of thing.

But I don’t see that. And one of the things that’s helped me do it is the story of James taking Josh to his high school prom. I don’t know where, and I’m not sure when (other than that it’s recent), but this story and this picture warmed my heart. It was unimaginable when I was in high school. It still is in some less enlightened, tolerant and accepting places. But the fact that it is possible, and even welcomed, in some places now gives me real hope for the future. The same hope that those in the early days of the civil rights movement saw for younger generations of African-Americans. And just 50 years later, look who’s in the White House. Only a hundred years after Teddy Roosevelt was so cowed by national outrage for inviting Booker T. Washington to dinner there that he never met publicly with Washington again.

Focus on the Family Chief Executive and President Jim Daly recently conceded that marriage equality opponents have “probably lost” the battle already. And he’s absolutely right. Demographics alone doom his and anyone else’s opposition to marriage equality nationwide. I’m sure pockets of resistance will remain long after it becomes law, but the tide has already shifted. Polls show that growing majorities of Americans support gay marriage. Homophobia will eventually become as odious as racism.

John Adams said “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”

In the same vein, those of past generations who suffered through aggressive police round-ups at bars and clubs, and who finally started to fight back, they studied politics and war so that those of the next generation would have liberty to study demographics and philosophy. Those of that generation have been studying demographics, politics, philosophy, and debate so that those of James and Josh’s generation can have the right to finally and freely be who and what God made them to be, without the stifling shame and fear of the past.

And that’s why this picture warmed my heart. Because it told me that the battle has already been won. Like Chavez said, once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.

4 comments:

Dad's Primal Scream said...

That IS a beautiful picture and a wonderful story. I completely agree. You can't unknow something... and I'm so lucky to be here right now to witness it.

Like you that picture would NEVER have been possible at my high school. I don't know if it would now, but at least it is SOMEWHERE and that boat has sailed!

Evan said...

Such a great post. I love the Cesar Chavez quote.

C. L. Hanson said...

Yes, that quote is inspirational and right on! (The Adams quote is pretty good too...)

I agree, it's great to see young people totally comfortable being who they are! :D

AKB said...

Amazing quotes and thoughts on a feeling and trend that is growing stronger in our country. :)